After earlier calling on citizens to embark on a three days of prayer to defeat what he termed ‘unnamed respiratory diseases’, Covid denying Tanzania’s president is finally acknowledging that his country has a coronavirus problem.
President John Magufuli on Sunday urged citizens of the East African country to take precautions and even wear face masks – but only locally made ones.
“Maybe we have wronged God somewhere,” Magufuli told mourners at a funeral for his chief secretary, John Kijazi, on Friday. “Let us all repent.”
Magufuli has repeatedly claimed that Tanzania, a country of some 60 million people, defeated COVID-19 with God’s help. The government has not updated its number of coronavirus cases since April while the health ministry has promoted unproven herbal remedies having failed to put any plan in place to procure vaccine or its nationwide rollout.
Magufuli has repeatedly questioned COVID-19 vaccines without offering any evidence.
Local Catholic church, the U.S. Embassy and WHO have openly warned of a resurgence in cases even before this week death of the vice president of the semi-autonomous island region of Zanzibar, Seif Sharif Hamad, brought widespread attention after his opposition political party said he died of COVID-19.
Hamad’s death is “a clear symbol this pandemic is raging, “ the director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, John Nkengasong, told reporters on Thursday.
The director-general of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, has added his voice to growing calls for Tanzania to acknowledge COVID-19.
Tedros in a statement on Saturday called Tanzania’s situation ‘very concerning’ and urged Magufuli’s government to take ‘robust action.’